The Cuomo administration has a serious, potentially deadly laser pointer shortage. That’s the only way to explain a report from the Albany Times-Union that Jerome Hauer, the state’s commissioner of Homeland Security & Emergency Services, used the the laser sight on his handgun as a pointer during a presentation in October, panicking a bunch of foreign delegates from countries where guns are only used for civilized things like shooting people.
Anonymous state officials told the newspaper they’d witnessed the incident, which they said happened during a presentation to a foreign delegation at the State Police Headquarters. According to the unnamed officials, the paper adds, “three Swedish emergency managers in the delegation were rattled when the gun’s laser tracked across one of their heads before Hauer found the map of New York, at which he wanted to point.”
Hauer had a stroke a few years ago and “can be unsteady,” the Times-Union adds. Also, he isn’t legally allowed to carry a firearm at work. It’s a violation of the state’s Public Facilities Law. What a great, reassuring story, right?
When approached by the newspaper about the alleged incident, Hauer said only, “You have bad sources.” His communications officer, Peter Cutler, also told the paper he would check into the incident, but couldn’t come up with anything more specific than “Your guess is as good as mine,” “I don’t have any information on that,” and, most substantively, “I’ve heard rumors.” He also said of his boss, “I don’t even know if he carries a weapon,” which is odd, since the Times-Union previously wrote about Hauer’s habit of carrying a handgun to work. (According to this latest report, it’s a 9-millimeter Glock.)
Hauer has never denied carrying a handgun to work, suggesting to the Times-Union reporter James Odato that he Google Hauer’s name to find out why he finds it necessary to do so. Hauer is indeed very unpopular on the Internet; he’s at the center of a number of bizarre September 11 conspiracy theories. However, it’s not clear if stories like this one , referring to him as a “suspect,” are the reason he feels the need to come to work armed. According to his official bio, he also served as a senior adviser to the Secretary for National Security and Emergency Management on September 11, and again during the country’s anthrax scare, both of which might also make you rather paranoid.
But even people who believe you should be able to carry your gun to the grocery store, the Starbucks, and your kid’s preschool music class are feeling frustrated with Hauer. As the story went viral yesterday, a number of pro-gun groups and websites lit up with outrage. (Not, um, literally). Part of that anger is because Hauer ignored every basic firearm safety protocol: Act like a gun is always loaded. Don’t point it at anything you don’t want to die or explode. No frightening the Swedes. And if you’re really hurting for a laser pointer, take the sight off the gun, and then put the gun away.
But the other issue for pro-gun groups is Hauer’s boss, Governor Andrew Cuomo, who as you probably recall passed a sweeping gun law this time last year, which, among other things, required universal background checks for would-be gun buyers and made magazines that hold more than seven rounds illegal.
And yet a member of his administration is apparently stumbling into work and frightening foreigners, which strikes gun enthusiasts as rather unfair. The outrage is strong on message boards like Long Island Firearms, as well as a forum for AR-15 enthusiasts, where Hauer is being referred to as an “IDIOT Cuomo appointee.” And gun review site The Truth About Guns comments, not inaccurately, “Surely Empire Staters are sleeping more soundly now, secure in the knowledge that it’s much more likely that only highly trained, qualified individuals like Mr. Hauer will be handling dangerous tools like firearms.”
Meanwhile, the website Bearing Arms adds, “Your handgun is not the appropriate tool to use as a laser pointer. A moderately intelligent child grasps that. So perhaps a child is the appropriate person to take over as Andrew Cuomo’s director of homeland security.”
Shh. You hear that? It’s the sound of both sides of America’s gun debate actually agreeing on something.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 7, 2014